Playa Grande Costa Rica – Surf, Nature, and Bliss!

A pristine beach with a lot of unique experiences that you won’t find in other local beaches of Guanacaste make Playa Grande a special place to me that I think you should consider visiting. This hidden gem on the Pacific coast is waiting for you to discover its wonders, from surfing to nature reserves and a vibrant dining scene. Today I’ll share with you what I’ve learned in my many trips to Playa Grande, Costa Rica.

Make sure to view my list of the top beaches in Guanacaste, where I lived for many years.

Playa Grande Overview

  • Discover Playa Grande, Costa Rica for pristine beaches and premier surf spots.
  • Explore the area with car rental or public transportation options available.
  • Enjoy activities like surfing, wildlife watching & day trips to nearby beaches!

Getting to Playa Grande: Travel Options

Reaching Playa Grande is a breeze, whether you choose to rent a car or opt for public transportation. Located in the beautiful Guanacaste Province, the town is just a 64-kilometer (40-mile) drive from Liberia International Airport. With a rental car, you’ll have the freedom to explore nearby attractions like Tamarindo Beach at your own pace.

If you prefer public transportation, there are also options to get you to Playa Grande and its magnificent beaches. Taxis are available for getting around, and a trip from Playa Grande to Tamarindo will cost around $30 each way, taking about 25-30 minutes.

Having discussed how to reach Playa Grande, we’ll now introduce you to its main attraction – Playa Grande Beach!

Car Rental Tips

Renting a car in Playa Grande is a fantastic way to explore the area and its surroundings. To rent a car, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old, and Costa Rican law requires car rental coverage. Top car rental companies in Playa Grande include RoadAdvisor and Soprisorbust, as recommended by a TripAdvisor forum post. Renting a car in Playa Grande typically costs around $400 USD a week for a mid-size SUV, but prices may vary depending on the rental company and the time of year.

While driving in Playa Grande, keep local rules and regulations in mind. Here are some important tips to remember:

  • Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers.
  • Children under 12 must be in a child safety seat.
  • Driving at night is not recommended, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
  • Driving on the beach is prohibited and will void your insurance coverage.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to hit the road and explore Playa Grande and its surroundings!

Public Transportation

While having a rental car is convenient, it’s not the only way to get around Playa Grande. If you prefer public transportation, taxis are available for travel between Playa Grande and nearby destinations like Tamarindo. The cost of a taxi ride from Playa Grande to Tamarindo is typically around $30 each way.

For shuttle services and more information on getting to Playa Grande by bus from major cities in Costa Rica, check out websites like or These options allow you to enjoy local activities and visit the beautiful beaches of Playa Grande without a rental car.

Exploring Playa Grande Beach

Playa Grande

One step onto Playa Grande Beach, and you’ll understand why this beautiful stretch of sand is a must-visit destination. The pristine shoreline and crystal-clear waters create an ideal setting for surfing, sunbathing, and leisurely strolls along the beach. The beach is easily accessible through paths at either the northern or southern end, so you can find your perfect spot for relaxation or adventure.

But be prepared for the sun – there are no trees for shade, and the tropical sun can be scorching. So, don’t forget to pack:

  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • your own umbrella

to stay cool and protected. While Playa Grande Beach itself doesn’t have many amenities like public restrooms or changing rooms, there is a beachfront restaurant called Taco Star at the main parking lot for a quick bite to eat.

Having experienced the beach life, our next stop is understanding what makes Playa Grande a haven for surfers.

Surfing in Playa Grande

Playa Grande is renowned for its incredible surf breaks, attracting both beginners and advanced surfers from around the world. With varied waves that can reach impressive heights, Playa Grande offers a thrilling surfing experience for all skill levels. The beach features different areas catering to surfers of various abilities, ensuring everyone can enjoy the perfect wave.

If you’re new to surfing or looking to improve your skills, there are several surf schools and rental options in Playa Grande to help you ride the waves with confidence. From Frijoles Locos to Mojo and A Cachete Surf, these surf schools offer lessons and equipment for an unforgettable surfing experience. If you’ve ever aspired to surf in a tropical setting, Playa Grande is the ideal place to fulfill that aspiration.

Surf Schools and Rentals

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a complete newbie, Playa Grande, located near San Jose, has a range of surf schools and rental options to suit your needs. Some of the top surf schools in the area include Frijoles Locos, Mojo, and A Cachete Surf, which come highly recommended by locals and visitors alike. With experienced instructors and quality equipment, these schools will have you riding the waves like a pro in no time.

If you prefer to rent surf gear and hit the waves on your own, these surf shops also offer a variety of equipment for rent. With the right gear and guidance, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of Playa Grande’s world-class surf breaks. Regardless of your surfing experience, Playa Grande has all the ingredients for an unforgettable surfing adventure.

Wildlife and Nature in Playa Grande

Leatherback sea turtle nesting site at Playa Grande

Playa Grande’s natural beauty extends beyond its stunning beaches. The area is rich in wildlife, with leatherback sea turtles nesting on the shores from October to February, making it a unique and awe-inspiring experience. Peak nesting season occurs in December and January, but you may also spot turtles nesting or hatchlings making their way to the ocean during other months.

Aside from the incredible turtle sightings, Playa Grande is also home to the Las Baulas National Marine Park, which protects both marine and land zones in the area. This protected area is a haven for wildlife, ensuring the conservation of these incredible creatures and their habitats.

We will now focus on Las Baulas National Marine Park and its significance to Playa Grande.

Las Baulas National Marine Park

Established in 1990, Las Baulas National Marine Park plays a crucial role in the conservation of marine and land zones in Playa Grande. The park is renowned for its turtle-watching opportunities, allowing visitors to witness these majestic creatures up close in their natural habitat.

In addition to turtles, Las Baulas National Marine Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including:

  • tropical fish
  • rays
  • corals
  • lizards
  • snakes
  • tropical birds
  • crocodiles
  • monkeys

The park offers an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Playa Grande and appreciate the efforts being made to protect its unique ecosystem.

Ensure to visit this remarkable park during your stay in Playa Grande.

Activities and Attractions Near Playa Grande

There’s more to Playa Grande than just its beautiful beach and premier surf spots. The area offers a variety of activities and attractions to keep you entertained during your visit. From ziplining and wildlife watching to scuba diving, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

For a truly memorable experience, consider:

  • Taking a day trip to one of the nearby beaches, such as Conchal, Avellanas, Flamingo, Langosta, or Potrero
  • Embarking on exciting adventures like the Guachipelin Adventure tour, which combines ziplining and horseback riding
  • Exploring the stunning landscapes of Rincon de la Vieja and Rio Celeste on a day trip from Tamarindo

The variety of options ensure you find the ideal activity to make your Playa Grande vacation memorable.

Dining and Nightlife in Playa Grande

After a day of sun, surf, and adventure, you’ll undoubtedly want to indulge in some delicious local cuisine. Playa Grande offers a range of dining options to satisfy your taste buds, including:

  • Beachfront restaurants
  • Cozy cafes
  • Several restaurants on the main street, ranging from cozy cafes to well-established dining venues
  • A surf shop and a small supermarket on the same road

When the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t stop in Playa Grande. Here are some options for you to enjoy the nightlife:

  • The Grateful Hotel is known for its live music on Sundays, providing a laid-back atmosphere perfect for unwinding after a day at the beach.
  • If you’re a fan of craft beer, check out Brothers of Ale in Huacas.
  • Las Olas Brewing in Playa Grande is also an excellent option.

The diversity in dining and nightlife at Cafe Mar Azul assures you find an ideal spot to unwind and relish your time in Playa Grande.

Accommodations in Playa Grande

Finding the perfect place to stay in Playa Grande is easy, with a wide range of accommodations to suit your needs and budget. Options include:

  • Beachfront hotels
  • Unique vacation rentals
  • Hostels
  • Sustainable vacation homes

There’s something for everyone.

Some popular hotels in Playa Grande include:

If you prefer a more home-like experience, vacation rentals are available, ranging from large homes with multiple bedrooms and full kitchens to smaller villas and sustainable condos.

Regardless of your travel preferences, you’ll discover the ideal accommodation to ensure a comfortable and memorable Playa Grande vacation.

Tips for Visiting Playa Grande

Planning ahead and being prepared is key to maximizing your Playa Grande vacation. The best time to visit Playa Grande is during the high season, from December to May, for optimal weather conditions. When packing for your trip, don’t forget essentials like:

  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • a hat
  • sunglasses
  • comfortable clothes

When traveling, prioritizing safety is crucial. Ensure to take precautions like avoiding solo walks at night and keeping track of your belongings. When visiting Playa Grande, be sure to respect local customs, such as dressing appropriately and observing beach rules like no dogs or fires allowed. By following these tips, you’ll have a fantastic time in Playa Grande while staying safe and making unforgettable memories.

Nearby Beaches and Day Trips

Playa Grande’s prime location on the Pacific coast makes it an ideal base for exploring nearby beaches and taking exciting day trips. Some beautiful nearby beaches worth visiting include Playa Ventanas, known for its snorkeling opportunities and low tide tidepools, and Playa Carbon, a unique beach with dark sand.

For those looking to venture further afield, there are numerous day trip options from Playa Grande, such as Diamante Eco Adventure Park, Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands, and Palo Verde National Park. You can also experience the thrill of scuba diving at the Catalina Islands and the Bat Islands, two of the best diving spots near Playa Grande. The abundance of nearby attractions and activities promises a Playa Grande vacation filled with memorable experiences.


In conclusion, Playa Grande, Costa Rica, offers the perfect blend of pristine beaches, premier surf spots, and rich wildlife. With a range of activities, attractions, dining options, and accommodations, there’s something for everyone in this idyllic paradise. So, pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to discover the incredible wonders of Playa Grande!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Playa Grande Costa Rica worth visiting?

Playa Grande offers some of the best surfing in all of Costa Rica, as well as sailing and fishing tours, restaurants and music venues, and a Leatherback Turtle nesting site. It’s definitely worth visiting!

Can you swim at Playa Grande Costa Rica?

Yes, you can swim at Playa Grande Costa Rica – just make sure to exercise caution with rip currents and know the sea floor depth.

What happens between October and March near Playa Grande?

From October to March, Playa Grande is the nesting site for the endangered Leatherback sea turtle, and Las Baulas National Park has been established to protect this delicate habitat.

What is the best time to visit Playa Grande?

If you’re looking to enjoy Playa Grande’s beaches and tropical weather, the best time to visit is December through May, when high season is in full swing.

How can I get to Playa Grande from Liberia International Airport?

Rent a car or take a taxi/shuttle to get to Playa Grande from Liberia International Airport.

Rate this post


Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

Leave a Comment